When a friend of yours is given an opportunity to speak on the power of our words to a group of students that include your daughter, and it’s just SO GOOD you, (ie me- Charity Rattray) publish her talk and encourage everyone, (ie you reading this) to read it. Sarah, an illustrator, worship leader, and powerful punch of truth well done.
I have the opportunity to talk to you about speech, the importance of our words and what kind of power they have.
We are going to look at 1Timothy 4:12 which says:
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”
You guys will keep looking back to this verse in the next couple of weeks with some other fun guest speakers who will address the later portions of this verse, so tonight we are going to narrow in on the first half, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech and conduct…”
So speech: the things you say
And conduct: the way you behave.
These two are together because they intertwine with each other, the things you say become the way you act and vice versa.
I have a few quotes I want us to look at to get us started in the right direction:
The first one comes from the bible in the book of James and says: James 3:5 “The tongue is a small thing, but enormous damage it can do.”
“Think before you speak,
It’s not a faucet leak.
Let your words matter,
Not be mindless chatter.”
A fun little rhyme, but I love the way it puts it, “not a faucet leak.” faucet leaks are a sign that something isn’t functioning the way it should. And while in the short term it causes minimal damage, after a while the damage becomes more severe, harder to repair if at all and incredibly annoying to those who have to listen to it.
And next, “Speaking without thinking is like shooting without aiming.” I don’t know who said that one.
Guns, they have a purpose right? They are tools that we use, good tools that require training, safety and thought. We all know the incredible devastation guns cause when they are used carelessly, and without reservation.
It is no different with your words. Words are a gift, a tool given to us to build, grow and cultivate a world that has purpose and is fueled by love.
But words are so powerful, even when misused, their impact can still be seen and felt, only, with a negative, destructive connotations.
I know you’ve all heard of this guy, Adolf Hitler.
We look at the atrocities committed against humanity, lead by this man and often ask the question, “Why would anyone follow this guy?”
It’s crazy right?
Why would anyone do what this crackpot said?
Truthfully, Hitler was an incredibly gifted speaker who carried the God-given ability to inspire and draw people under his influence.
Unfortunately, he used this gift to stir up hate, prejudice and fear, leading the world into one of it’s darkest hours in modern history.
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.”
So many of us recognize this speech and it’s deliverer because it is considered to be one of the greatest speeches in American History, given at a crucial point in time where the definition of freedom and equality needed to be challenged.
We all remember Martin Luther King Jr. who gave that speech in front of 250,000 people, as a man who used his gift, his voice and his words to united, forgive, and stare down the roaring head of injustice and inequality.
Your words carry weight too.
While you may not yet run nations and have influence over thousands of people, you still carry influence.
You have the ability to affect your home, school and any other social environments you are in.
The things you choose to say can take any situation and either fix things, grow things, or they can send you on a spiral, much like a tornado, that destroys all kinds of things such as, trust, character, and value.
When asked to share with you about the power of your words, I thought this is really funny.
For most of my life I have seen first hand the difficulties and heartbreak that my words can cause when they aren’t used as the weighty, life-changing, precious gifts that they are.
Growing up I was ALWAYS in trouble for talking.
Every parent/teacher conference went to same way: “She’s a great student, but won’t learn to control her mouth” or, “she never stops talking.”
I think it needs to be noted that a lot of times the things we say aren’t true and it’s not because we are just a bunch of horrible liars who want to cause trouble, but because our perceptions of things are often one-sided and narrow.
We, as humans, have a hard time seeing things objectively, which means without a bias or our own personal agendas attached.
When we speak without having all the facts or we haven’t bothered looking at situations from all angles we run the risk of saying things that aren’t true.
Speaking truth really matters. When I was really young I did this to my mother. I said something to a teacher of mine in a joking manner, which ended up getting child services called on my mom and they wanted to take my brothers and I away from her.
That would have been devastating, because we have always been safe and loved by our mom.
My words are so powerful that they can severely alter the course of my life and the lives of those around me.
While I would love to tell you that that was the only time I had to learn this lesson the hard way, it wasn’t.
Even as an adult I have had trouble keeping my words in check which inevitably hurting my family, myself and caused me to lose friendships that were important to me.
It lost me trust and credibility.
For the longest time I thought all my troubles were external from myself.
That all the problems my words caused, were really the problem of other people, convinced that I hadn’t done anything wrong.
It was their fault if they chose to be offended by my words.
They just didn’t understand me and didn’t want to.
In fact, they’re probably out to get me.
Do you know what an “AH-HA!” moment is?
Here was mine:
The things you say matter.
What you say, or don’t say is powerful
AND COMPLETELY UNDER YOUR CONTROL.
Do you know where this ability to control your words comes from?
You guessed it: GOD.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them…
He says this three times, so it must be important for us to remember.
You and I are made in his image.
Which means we are made in his likeness, made to look like him.
Think of it like the sculptures created to look like people.
The difference is that you weren’t formed and then left alone.
You were formed, and then animated by the divine breath of God.
This is an idol created in the image of David.
In the same way, you and I are little Idols of an Almighty Creator.
Mirror holders meant to reflect his image.
Meaning, to accurately reflect his nature, you do as he does.
God speaks and things happen, things are created.
With a word, the world was formed.
With a word the storms were called to cease.
With a word the dead came back to life.
This is the God who made you to do as he does.
Your voice is meant to create.
Your voice is meant to bring peace.
Your voice is meant to give life and heal.
There is a song we sing here at Mercer called “So Will I – Hillsong”
We sing the lyrics, “
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I love this next verse…
God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice
It goes on in this way glorifying the wondrous authority, creativity and love that flows endlessly from the mouth of God. This is our example!
Our response? So will I. As you do, SO WILL I!
I have something I want you to think about:
I get lead worship here on Sundays, and if the times I am not on stage, I used my words to make people feel bad about themselves,
Shame my children.
Manipulate my husband.
What business does my mouth have proclaiming the love I have for the Father?
What business do I have praising him and leading others to do the same?
It would be hypocrisy, false.
It wouldn’t have any impact on the hearts of those I’m suppose to care for and love, because I’ve used my words to tear down the kingdom of God I am suppose to be building.
James 3:9-11 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings who have been made in his likeness. Out of the same mouth come praising and cursing. My brothers and sisters this should not be! Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring?”
The real reason your words matter is because Jesus said in Matthew, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
What you put in, is what comes out.
What you do in private, eventually overflows into public.
You see how this is a matter of your heart?
What you read.
What you listen to.
Who you idolize.
Who you spend time with.
What you believe about yourself.
What you believe about those next to you.
What you believe about God.
It all comes from somewhere and you get filled and filled.
Eventually it becomes who you are and how you represent our King.
Our culture is under the impression that we shouldn’t care what others think about us, and that’s true, your worth doesn’t come from anyone here.
But you should care that the gift you’ve been given, speech, our unique language, communicates a lot about who you are, what you believe and what kind of God you serve.
Proverbs 18:21 “ Death and Life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it eat it’s fruits.” another version puts it this way, “Words Kill. Words give life. They are either poison or fruit – You choose.”
Your words matter.
Your voice matters.
It may not always feel that way because you are young and you’ve probably had plenty of experience where people haven’t been readily willing to listen to what you have to say, but let’s not forget the first part of the verse we read in Timothy “ Don’t let anyone look down on you because you’re young,”
This is the perfect place to tell you that there is no such thing as a junior holy spirit.
You don’t have to be an adult to know God and serve him.
The same God that your parents worship and that Scholars seem to know so much about is the same God who actively invites you to know him, Walk with him and hear his voice.
You’ve been given access to all the things of God, even in your youth.
This means that you are responsible to make sure the things you say are things that are worth listening to.
See, Timothy doesn’t just say that you SHOULDN’T BE looked down on because you’re young.
He says DON’T LET anyone look down on you, “but set an example.”
This implies that there is action required.
Don’t let them look down on you, how? By setting an example!
The voice you’ve been given has to be backed by your ability to take responsibility for it.
You do this through the power of the Holy Spirit,
Which you’ve been given full access to.
You have been given the incredible ability to control yourself. One of the fruits of the spirit is Self-control!
You can use your words as tools for building a better world
To display the relentless love of the God to everyone
& to honor and glorify the Savior King.
I’m here as an example that Your words matter.
If you don’t want to take my word for it,
Just listen to the advice of a wise man who said,
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it.” -Albus Dumbledore.